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Wicked Local Plymouth: Sen. Markey confirms Plymouth will receive $13.5 million for dredging

Sen. Edward Markey: “Mainsails and masts may have given way to cargo and cruises, but Plymouth Harbor’s esteemed position in American history lives on.”

PLYMOUTH – Let the dredging commence!

Early Monday afternoon U.S. Sen. Edward Markey’s office confirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers will dedicate $13.5 million dollars to the dredging of Plymouth Harbor, with the work to be completed before the commemoration in 2020 of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Plymouth Colony in 1620.

Markey, D-Massachusetts, visited Plymouth last Friday, accompanied by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Ricky James but declined to confirm word from U.S. Rep. Bill Keating, D-Massachusetts, that the money was on the way.

Asked by the Old Colony as he stood outside the harbormaster’s building Friday afternoon “the $14 million question” Markey would only say that he was optimistic, adding that the effort to secure the funds “was on third base with a big lead.”

Markey’s press release Monday left no doubt.

“Mainsails and masts may have given way to cargo and cruises, but Plymouth Harbor’s esteemed position in American history lives on,” Markey, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, stated. “The Pilgrims safely navigated Plymouth Harbor’s waters, and their descendants should be able to make the same journey.

“I thank Assistant Secretary James for his support for this critical project. With this funding Plymouth Harbor will be able to host an historic birthday party – one that Americans from sea to shining sea will remember forever.”

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, Keating, Massachusetts legislators and local officials also commented in the press release.

“This new federal funding is terrific news for Plymouth, the South Shore, and our Commonwealth,” Warren said. “As we prepare to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower, we also celebrate the important role this historic harbor plays in our communities.”

“I’d like to thank Senator Markey for inviting me to tour some of Massachusetts’ key water resource projects: Plymouth Harbor, Boston Harbor, the Cape Cod Canal bridges, and the Town of Sandwich,” James said. “Senator Markey has been a leader on these important issues, and I’ve enjoyed working with him in a genial, bipartisan manner.”

“Senator Markey met with us, listened to our need to have Plymouth Harbor dredged and took immediate action to make it happen. That is true leadership,” Murray stated.

“For years the word on the docks has been that no one would see Plymouth Harbor dredged in their lifetime, but thanks to Senator Markey and the Army Corps of Engineers, that pipe dream will soon be a reality,” Harbormaster Chad Hunter said.

Keating, state Sen. Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, state Rep. Matt Muratore, R-Plymouth, Plymouth Town Manager Melissa Arrighi and Plymouth 400 Inc. Executive Director Michele Pecoraro were all quoted – and thanked – in the announcement.

More importantly Markey’s announcement, like Keating’s, underlined the important detail that the funding of the dredging was going to be entirely born by the Army Corps of Engineers, and that the work would begin soon and end before the official events of the commemoration are underway.

The confirmation of the timing of the project is nearly as critical as the funding, as there are time-consuming preliminary steps that must take place before the dredging.

In a statement issued later that day Keating detailed the aggressive timeline.

“The Army Corps is working to finish water quality certification with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in the next couple of weeks. Sustainability information on the dredge material and other federal environmental work should wrap up in that time frame as well. The engineering plans should be finished and reviewed in time for the Army Corps to advertise the contract as early as mid-July; award the contract by September; and see work in the Harbor beginning by November 2018.

Then Keating connected the dredging to the 400th anniversary.

“The Plymouth Harbor dredging project has always been at the heart of the 2020 preparations, and the surrounding towns will reap significant benefit from its completion,” Keating said. “We anticipate an exceedingly memorable year as we commemorate the Mayflower landing in Provincetown and Plymouth, the successful settlement by the Pilgrims, the essential contributions of the Aquinnah and Mashpee Wampanoag tribes, and the number of key events that followed, including the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the 50-year Pilgrim-Wampanoag peace treaty, and the first Thanksgiving.

“I am thrilled for the people in my district, and we are eager to welcome visitors from around the world to our communities.”

Follow Frank Mand on Twitter @frankmandOCM.